Chicken Nuggets: Which Are Healthiest?

FN_FN Kitchens Homemade Frozen Chicken Fingers.tif

FN_FN Kitchens Homemade Frozen Chicken Fingers.tif

FN_FN Kitchens Homemade Frozen Chicken Fingers.tif

©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

As a mom of two young kids, I certainly have the need to pop a batch of frozen nuggets into the oven from time to time. As a dietitian, I want to make sure those nuggets aren't filled with junk! Here are some sensible options, three store-bought and one homemade.

What's Inside A Nugget?

Nuggets come in all shapes and sizes but the majority contain numerous processed ingredients including fillers, excess water and thickeners. As for the nutrition facts, chicken nuggets average 30 to 50 to calories and 2 to 4 grams of fat per piece. A serving will pack in 400 to 500 milligrams of sodium, or about 20 percent of the daily recommended allotment.

Better Nuggets

There are some smarter options out there. Here's what the nutrition labels reveal.

•     Bell & Evans

A beautifully simple ingredient list and chicken raised without antibiotics. It's nice to see a chicken nugget that actually tastes like chicken.

•     Applegate Farms

Available in both traditional and gluten-free varieties, these well-seasoned nuggets have high quality ingredients and a sensible amount of calories, fat and sodium.

•    Veggie Patch

Made with a soy-based protein, these faux chicken nuggets are comparable to the all-stars mentioned above in calories, protein, fat and sodium, plus they're cholesterol free.

•   Homemade

When you do have the time, try these homemade  chicken fingers (above). Make extra and store in the freezer.

Tell Us: What's your choice for a healthier nugget?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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